Central Criminal Court

Phone analyst not told about accused's claims on night of murder

Court

Eoin Reynolds

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Eoin Reynolds

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at the Central Criminal Court

Trial of woman accused of murdering boyfriend in Tipperary opens at Central Criminal Court

Central Criminal Court

A mobile phone analyst giving evidence in the trial of a man accused of murdering an on-duty garda was not told that the accused claimed he was laundering diesel on the night of the murder, the Central Criminal Court has heard.

Edward McGoey told defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC that he was not an investigator and was simply given mobile phone numbers and asked to analyze what contacts were made between them at times relevant to the investigation. He said he was never made aware that the accused man, Aaron Brady, had told gardai in an off-the record statement that he was laundering diesel at a site in south Armagh on the same evening that Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe was shot dead during an armed raid on a credit union.

He said he was also unaware of information linking five men known to Aaron Brady to diesel laundering, some of whom were in contact with Mr Brady in the days leading up to the robbery and shooting.

Aaron Brady has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Det Gda Adrian Donohoe who was then a member of An Garda Siochana on active duty on January 25, 2013 at Lordship Credit Union, Bellurgan, Co Louth. The 29-year-old from New Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh also pleaded not guilty to a charge of robbing approximately €7,000 in cash and assorted cheques from Mr Pat Bellew on the same date and at the same location.

Mr McGoey has spent five days giving evidence of phone contacts between Mr Brady, two named suspects for the robbery and a brother of one of those suspects. 
 
Mr O'Higgins told him that he wanted to illustrate how the robbery and murder of Det Gda Donohoe were investigated. He said there were some "small details" that were investigated and he wished to contrast that with other details that were not. Giving examples, he said Mr Brady had told gardai he watched a rented film called "Lawless" on the day before the murder. Gardai visited the local Xtra-Vision to find out if the film had been rented at the time claimed. Similarly, he said, a welder was quizzed on whether he had been unable to provide Mr Brady with a part for a quad bike.

Mr O'Higgins suggested that this was "investigation to the nth degree" but the witness said he does not know whether such things are "standard, run of the mill for a garda investigation."

Mr O'Higgins then took the witness through a statement to gardai by Mr Brady in which he said that earlier on the evening when Det Gda Donohoe was shot he had been working at a diesel laundering site in south Armagh. Mr McGoey said it is not for him to say whether that is something that gardai should have investigated.

Mr O'Higgins said gardai also had evidence confirming that the site where Mr Brady said he was laundering diesel in south Armagh was in fact a diesel laundering site. The witness said this information was new to him and when asked if it would have been of use to him in his analysis of mobile phone data he said: "I can't say."

When Mr O'Higgins asked him if information relating to fuel laundering should have been followed up by investigating gardai Mr McGoey said: "I can't comment."

Mr O'Higgins said it is the defence case that Mr Brady and at least five other people who were in regular phone contact in the days around January 25 2013 were involved in fuel laundering. He put it to the witness that when you look at the phone contacts between these people over those days it is "hard to know what to make of it."

The witness replied: "There is nothing to make of it other than they made calls at these times and it lasted this long." He agreed that the prosecution was leading the evidence of contacts between Mr Brady and certain people to persuade the jury that there were patterns of contact at critical times that would allow you to draw conclusions.

Mr McGoey said he didn't think it unusual that he was not told about aspects of the garda investigation, telling Mr O'Higgins that he was asked to set out contacts between certain numbers and that's what he did. 

The trial continues in front of Mr Justice Michael White and a jury of six men and seven women.